“When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.” – Lord Kelvin
“Just as the digital revolution created measurement challenges, it also provides new measurement tools” (Brynjolfsson & Collis, 2020)
The Stanford Digital Economy Lab seeks to understand the impact of digital technologies on the economy and society. As data continues to grow in volume, velocity, and variety, we have a unique opportunity to create new and better methods of measurement. Digitization presents opportunities for new ways of doing business, organizing data, training AI, providing oversight and regulation, and providing real-time metrics and accountability. The ability to track a range of previously difficult to measure externalities (carbon, labor, and provenance of physical and digital goods, to name a few) has never been closer. One technology that could be instrumental in this regard, is decentralized digital architectures.
To more rapidly understand key concepts and applications related to decentralized digital architectures (commonly referred to as “Web 3.0” or “Web3”) and explore their full power for new and improved metrics, the Digital Economy Lab is creating a dedicated project on said topic that will bring together academics, corporate stakeholders, and others, supported by visiting scholar Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland, with input of researchers and fellows from the Digital Economy Lab. We envision a broad, far-reaching, and future-facing exploration of decentralized digital architectures and their applications, specifically with regards to its uses for measuring previously unmeasured or poorly-measured phenomena and information. These may include (but are not limited to): supply chain management, social media platforms, collective action, governance, and sustainability.
Methodology, Activities, and Outputs
Through a combination of data gathering, analysis, and discussion, our goal is to develop a thorough understanding of today’s opportunities, challenges, and best-practices, with an eye toward providing insights, guidance, and know-how that will propel innovation and the use of these technologies for the good of society.
Web3 Project activities are designed to provide a forum for participants to generate insights, ideas, and information for business leaders and decision-makers through a series of conversations and convenings for connection. Academics will learn from each other and from corporate participants about a specific topic and glean valuable insights from stakeholders to inspire research projects of real-world relevance, and apply their academic work to business challenges.